California fall aglow.
California Fall - How to Plant the Season in your Garden
This time of year is all about letting go. Of a hot busy summer. Of the goals we set aside this year and the ones we blew out of the water (nice work!). Now it's time to go in. To feast and reflect. And what better way to set the stage than with a garden that reflects that transition we all feel as the sun's angle changes?
In California - where the weather is often an endless summer - it helps give us a sense of place and time to add fall color to the landscape. It can even help with your decorating and table accents! While other plants are frantic about the hot sun in December, your fall species will never lie about what time of year it is.
7 Trees & Landscaping Plants to Grow the Season
If you want to add fall plants to your garden for seasonal interest, consider contrasting a few of different sizes and slightly differently colors. Then spread them out to give an immersive feel. Or just plant a hedge of pomegranate and a single Persimmon accent tree! You can't go wrong with these drought-friendly fruits and their fall flare.
While spring and summer are riotous in color and winter is a land of soft blue-greens, you'll get to be cozy in your autumn sweater, spending an hour or two outside raking leaves. You might be an East coast transplant longing for a taste of home, or you might just be a quiet gardener eager for another season (besides our endless summer) in which to roam.
This classic drought-tolerant summer blooming tree is notoriously dead looking in winter. But the brief fall change is worth the dormancy, with beautiful rose and rust hues that accent perfectly against other fall trees in the landscape.
Here these big old blooming street trees are show off in the old town areas of Los Gatos, California.
A beautiful deep burgundy leaved tree adds all kinds of seasonal flair to the garden. While dogwoods are unassuming in winter and summer their incredible spring flowers and fall show well make-up for it as central accents in the landscape. Kousa varieties even offer small edible and bird attracting fruits. Plant them in shade in Southern California.
Be it dwarf, ancient or hedgerows, there's no better drought-tolerant tree for fall color in California than the stately Pomegranate. It's hot yellow leaves look absolutely perfect against any remaining Ruby fruits and can offer the fruits full of little juicy fruits to accent your Thanksgiving or Winter salads.
From perfect table toppers to delicious dessert options, this fruit really stacks up in fall. Glowing juicy orange orbs attract the eye and add bright autumn color to the landscape. Often hanging on well into winter after their leaves drop. Pair them with purple fringe flower (in shade), agaves, Phormium and a small Japanese maple as shown in this gorgeous garden in Santa Cruz, California.
Why Plant Fall Trees?
Well-selected deciduous trees offer huge benefits in the landscape. While they dump a big pile of leaves once in fall, they drop far less litter on the whole during the rest of the growing season than evergreen species.
Because of the lower oil content in their wood, deciduous trees also help serve as firebreaks in natural landscapes. Meaning they can improve fire resistance in your yard at home (as long as you clean up the leaves if its a dry autumn so they don't turn into a big pile of kindling).
Gorgeous fluttering fall leaves dangle in the breeze on this architectural gems. While not a drought-tolerant plant this tree has won me over as of late for it's edible sap. The sweet sticky source of birch syrup - more delicate and several times as concentrated as maple syrup sap - certainly deserves some extras and a place in our local landscapes (even if you never plan on tapping!).
Accent their fabulous autumn color with purple palace heuchera, blue ice Euphorbia and various bulbs. For a modern makeover to the your partly shaded entry landscape.
Purple 'Forest Pansy' Redbud
This tree really takes in Northern California's various climates and especially in part-shade. It's dark purple heart-shaped summer foliage gives way to a truly stunning fall eruption of flame hues. Not to mention its beautiful little spring buds are EDIBLE and a perfect addition to seasonal salads.
Western Redbuds (Cercis occidentalis) offers many of the same benefits and tends to grow better in Southern California, where it also benefits from part-shade. Slow-growing but worth the wait! Paired with shapely topiary dwarf olives, cypress and Jasmine in Willow Glen, San Jose
Miscanthus & Calamagrostis
Silvergrass & Ornamental Grasses
Perhaps my favorite California fall gem is ornamental grasses. The big sweeping inflorescences of Silvergrass (i.e. miscanthus 'morning light'), Feather reed grass (Calamagrostis 'Karl forester') or Muhlenbergia grasses truly take the autumn cake. Their big billowing forms temporarily take over landscapes in a show-stopping fall flower fest reminiscent of big meadows and endless fields. They get cutback hard for winter and leave room for the bolder forms of flowers in spring.
Paired here with carpet rosemary, Artemisia, succulents and a 'Bloodgood' Japanese Maple in Los Altos, California.